Tag Archives: parenting

No room for us

How Having Children Changes a Marriage, a Happy Wife’s Perspective

One morning you look over and notice there are no tiny bodies between yourself and your husband, so you move closer to him and see gray hairs above his ears. And when did those tiny lines next to his eyes appear? Maybe you feel a little guilty that you haven’t noticed. There was a time when you spent hours staring at your husband and tracing every line on his face.

That was before you had children.  

Now you probably know who is performing on Yo Gabba Gabba, but probably not SNL. You’re more likely to have recently discussed your distaste for the parenting skills on Caillou with your husband then the state of affairs in Russian-American politics.  It’s common knowledge you and your husband have probably arranged your schedules so that someone is always available to care for the children but haven’t made time to be intentionally together.

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Sometime between then and now, pre-child and post-child, your relationship has changed, or perhaps it is better said that you each have changed and you fit together in different ways.

There are so many things you have given up- girl’s nights, romantic weekend trips, dinner not served at 5pm, sleeping in past 7am. You’ve also given up being the center of your husband’s world. He’s done the same.

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You don’t have to ask yourself “is it worth it?” You know it certainly is.

You need only look at those little faces, a snapshot into the past, a time when your husband was young and you didn’t know he existed.  

My three children are tow headed like my husband was. One even has his bendy ear. Also, like my husband, they cannot wake up in the morning. The good news is they also share his sense of adventure and will try anything. Going someplace new is exponentially fun with my little family (once we get up).

The moment our first child was born, we each gained a new identity, me as mother, and my husband as father. The list of “things to do” for these titles are considerably more substantial than the titles of “wife” and “husband.” I got to meet my husband all over again. In the delivery room while my firstborn took his first breath I was introduced to the father of my children, a man with a responsibility to provide for his family, a man who needs to be a role model for his young children.

So times are different. There are things you can’t do right now. There are new sources of excitement; most important is watching your children grow into amazing people.

Children change a marriage, and isn’t it great?

 

"We work things out."

Arguing to Reach a Resolution

In the interest of full disclosure, let me start by telling you I am an attorney. My profession is to argue and I enjoy it. I love painting witnesses into the proverbial corner. In court I spar with opposing counsel, attacking the logic of his points, and then shake hands and wish him well.
My husband Steve and I do fight in front of the kids. And by fight I mean we argue. We “use our words.” I would never ever condone parents using their hands on each other ever let alone in front of the children. We made a promise to each other years ago to work problems out. So we work them out as they arise. We respect each other and don’t want the other to feel bad until it is convenient to talk. We have discussed whether we should disagree in front of the kids. I think we may have actually argued about it. I feel strongly that the kids and us are part of a team and we need to be transparent with each other. For us, the fights always get resolved. The persuading, compromising, criticizing, negotiating, and forgiving, are all practical skills you learn from observing. I do my best to keep my sailor’s mouth in check, even when I am mad, because I know it is important to my husband that we don’t cuss in front of the kids.
My kids will sometimes pick sides when they see us argue. It depends on whose side is more closely aligned with their own interests. If I am making the case for a trip to Disney, they take my side. A few months ago my four year old interrupted a heated discussion with “Mommy don’t fight with Daddy, he loves you and you guys are married.” Steve and I cracked up laughing and forgot what the dispute was.
The kids helped us celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

The kids helped us celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

I remember my parents fighting in front of me and my brothers, heck, they still do. They have been happily married for 41 years. Even when they fought I felt they were in it for the long haul. I never once worried “oh no my parents are fighting they are going to get divorced.” I want my kids to have that same security, that mom and dad can work anything out and will never give up on each other.
My parents gave us security that we would always be a family.

My parents gave us security that we would always be a family.

In my house we play a game called the Martin Luther King Game. Here are the rules.- if someone has a problem, and it can be anything, we use words to work it out. They use words to state the problem, explain how it makes both sides feel, and then express a solution. For example, if my daughter took my son’s toy and he is about to throw a fit I say “Martin Luther King Game!” They will take turns back and forth until there is agreement. Maybe it is my background as an attorney, but I really want my kids to solve their own problems with words.
I think it is artificial to create an environment for the kids without conflict. The real world is full of conflict that our children will have to navigate. Not in the future, but now, on the playground or in preschool. They fight over toys, they fight over taking turns, they fight over friends.  I hope that my children will have the language to resolve these conflicts. Last year I was volunteering in my son’s kindergarten class, and I saw two kids fighting over a puzzle. I was watching, waiting to see if I needed to intervene or if they would work it out, when my own son came over with a second puzzle box and said, “here now you both can have one.” It melted my heart that my son offered himself as the peace broker during this classroom scuffle.
"We work things out."

“We work things out.”

My son was late to talk, so the speech therapist told us it was important to give him language to express his feelings. We had a chart he could point to with different stick figure faces that were happy, sad, bored, etc. I love that now, as a six year old, he is so eloquent when expressing his feelings. He will say things like “I am so frustrated right now that it makes it hard to think.” He knows to define the conflict, and seek resolution. I think he has this ability because his father and I express our feelings to each other.
The preceding is the background I used for the interview featured on Today.com

http://www.today.com/moms/fighting-front-kids-parental-do-or-dont-2D11624576